My Evening with LeBron James

Sixteen years ago, I attended my first NBA game. It was a DARE field trip and a Minnesota Timberwolves team on the cusp of relevance was playing the Utah Jazz. Karl Malone was there. John Stockton was there. Tom Gugliotta was probably there. I bought a David Robinson pennant. I peed next to Flip Saunders.

Sixteen year later, I attended my second NBA game, mostly to see LeBron James.

I’m no fan of LeBron. I’ve poked plenty of fun at him in the past and he broke my heart beyond description during last year’s Finals. Even if I always hate him, he now commands my eternal respect. Watching him play basketball live was beyond beautiful; it was frightening.

It isn’t just that he’s large. And powerful. And fast. And graceful. It’s that he combines all of those things together in a way that makes “violent” the only proper adjective.

LeBron James plays basketball like the US Marine Corps conducts war. It’s surgical, it controls the tempo (usually fast), it’s powerful, and it is both emotionless and remorseless in its precision.

So, yeah. James and the Heat beat the hometown Wolves 103-82. Everyone had their scrubs in by the middle of the 4th quarter. But, I got to see the best in the world.

Prodigal Son

This was almost a triumphant story. 37.2 seconds away. Then 23.9 seconds. Then 19.4. 7.9. Then it was gone.

This was almost a story of a young man abandoning a place where he grew up. Going off to the greener pastures on the other side of the fence. Then, having a change of heart, returning to great fanfare and celebration.



90’s basketball was the best. The Admiral swatting shots away. Shaq destroying backboards. Hakeem Olajuwon’s “Dream Shake.” The Glove to the Reign Man. Mt. Mutombo’s wagging finger. Stockton and the Mailman. And of course, Air Jordan, Pip, and the Chicago Bulls.

Has any sport been as loaded with awesome nicknames?

Has any sport been as loaded with all-time greats during a decade?

Has any sport ever been so compelling? Continue reading